Big healthcare companies have strong decade

Healthcare is definitely a tough business, but when you look at the healthcare companies on the S&P 500, you wouldn't necessarily know it. A new analysis by MarketWatch has concluded that the healthcare companies among the 500 have had a surprisingly jolly decade.

Healthcare companies occupying the list of top firms include one hospital group (Tenet), insurers, medical devicemakers, pharmas, drug distributors, medical suppliers and biotech firms. To analyze their position, MarketWatch examined financials on 52 of the 53 firms in this sector, looking at Wall Street estimates or final results for these firms for fiscal 2009.

MarketWatch concluded that the largest U.S. healthcare firms will net $94 billion on the more than $1 trillion in revenue they take in this year, much of which will have been generated through internal growth, MarketWatch found. Editors calculated that companies in this sector enjoyed average profit increases of 175 percent over the last 10 years, and average sales growth of 160 percent. While four companies saw profits fall, each should post a profit during fiscal '09.

Biotech was the highest performer in the group, with profits climbing almost nine-fold and margins at roughly 29 percent. Other top performers included drugmakers, which went from 19 percent to 22 percent margins during the period, and medical device makers and suppliers, which should margins of 15 percent and 17 percent respectively when the decade closes.

Get more background on healthcare company performance:
- read this MarketWatch piece

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